May 2, 2017
Dear President Trump, Secretary Zinke, and Secretary Ross,
On behalf of the 450 undersigned organizations and our millions of members across the country, we are writing to express our deep concern with your recent Executive Orders and our unified opposition to any efforts to remove or decrease protections for any national monuments.
Since its enactment over a hundred years ago, the Antiquities Act has been one of our nation’s most critical conservation tools for preserving our nation’s most important public lands and waters. Our national parks and monuments and other protected public lands and waters unite all Americans by protecting our shared American heritage for future generations to enjoy. The sheer diversity of historic, cultural, and natural treasures that have been protected by the Antiquities Act is the reason why hundreds of groups representing sportsmen, cultural heritage organizations, evangelicals, conservation, recreation businesses, historic preservation, social justice, and many others all oppose efforts to undermine our national monuments and view an attack on any one national monument as an attack on them all.
Whether focused on the Bears Ears National Monument and the over 100,000 irreplaceable cultural and archaeological resources protected in this landscape or the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument which protected unique and pristine ocean habitats and marine life, or any other monument that protects our cultural, historic and natural treasures, an attempt to undermine protections for these uniquely American places would not only rob the American people of our shared heritage but establish a dangerous precedent that we can no longer trust that park or monument can be considered fully safeguarded for future generations.
The American people, including the millions of members we represent, overwhelmingly oppose efforts to roll back protections for the parks, monuments, marine sanctuaries and other public lands and waters they love. According to Colorado College’s Conservation in the West Poll, 80% of western voters support keeping existing national monuments protections in place while only 13% of western voters supported removing protections for existing monuments. This poll reinforces other surveys that document widespread public opposition to congressional attacks on new parks. In a December 2014 Hart Research Poll, 90% of Americans support the permanent protection of some public lands, monuments, wildlife refuges and wilderness. Americans want more protected public lands and waters, not less!
We are concerned that this review is a pretense to advance efforts to undermine or strip protections for current national monuments. This review and the implied effort to roll back our monuments worries those who love our national monuments and the communities that rely on them to power their local economies. Just this week the Outdoor Industry Association unveiled a study that shows the outdoor recreation economy generates $887 billion in economic activity and is responsible for 7.6 million jobs. Protected public lands and waters are the backbone of this economy and any effort to introduce uncertainty by implying that the national monuments that drive local economies may not be permanent will hurt those gateway communities and businesses that depend on them.
We believe that any review that is rigorously fact based, includes robust public input and is cognizant of the resources on the ground will undoubtedly show that our National Monuments are beyond deserving of their status and protections and should be safeguarded in their current states for future generations. We encourage the Department of the Interior to listen to the American people and reflect deeply on the values and resources they are sworn to protect and believe that this can lead to only one recommendation – that our national monuments are treasures worthy of the utmost protection.
Our organizations and the diverse array of members and interests we represent are united in our support for our national parks and monuments. Our national monuments protect our uniquely American heritage and we stand with the overwhelming majority of our fellow Americans in defending them from efforts to undermine protections for parks and monuments. We urge you to refrain from any effort to shrink, repeal or otherwise undermine any National Monuments.
Thank you for your consideration.
To see the full list of the 450 organizations who signed this letter, along with the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, please click this link.